Showing posts with label environmental education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environmental education. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Hatching 8: a long river pop-up

In our final Ribble Trout workshops, we were making long pop-up landscapes that fitted together to make long unfolding rivers that could run right across a classroom. These proved almost impossible to photograph effectively so i tried on my sample one without much more success!

Here are some images anyway to try to get an idea of what we were going for....

2 pop-ups locked together give us a rippling river
a third pop-up extends the flow
a close-up for the final panel

The Hatching 7 - released into the wild river

Thompson's Park: a river ready for trout?
And at last, our fingerlings swim free into the rivers of Burnley...emotional departures with songs, speeches and heartfelt moments....

fingerlings ready for release
food and friends from the riverbed?
singing our fish to freedom

the moment of freedom

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Hatching

Singing the fish, 1:
The Hatching
river catchment area up at Wycoller in Trawden

A new project begins now. 6 schools in Burnley have received aquaria and are now hatching small numbers of fish eggs so that the school communities can watch these first few weeks of trout-life before releasing the fish into the rapidly improving River Ribble

My friend Steve Brown are going to be working in those 6 schools to write poems and stories and make music inspired by this process. The resulting artwork will help reinforce the experience and will help us share the excitements and anticipations of The Hatching with a wider public

Activities began on Saturday as part of an Open Day at the Canalside Community Association's centre in Burnley. There between storytelling and noisy drumming sessions we were making the components of a healthy river….with a few implausible additions

Over the next few weeks, I'll add poems, pictures and music (if I can manage that) to share the excitement of our new families

"In the past, industrial and agricultural pollution as well as water abstraction and inadequate sewage treatment have caused severe habitat damage to the Ribble and its tributaries, to such an extent that the wildlife supported by the river has been put under threat. The Trust was established in order to enhance the water environments of the catchment, by restoring and protecting the river to make certain that future generations can enjoy the beauty of its wildlife and fauna." - introduction from the Trust's website 

sharks and a crocodile claim local children

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Hathersage, 2

our story corner in the schools's wildlife area
Little John? Highwaymen in my house that used to be a pub? Us!...people in Hathersage who could be in an adventure!

iris by the pond, newts in the water!

As tall as as a tree
as loud as thunder
Nettle-sharp eyes and
The giant climbs over the wall
And stamps across the field

His eyes are knots in trees,
Under eyebrows as wild as moss,
His teeth are sharp thorns,
His bushy hair is sticky weeds
His ears are big, round shells
And his voice is as loud as church bells

small story moments turned up everywhere

two hedgehogs went adventuring - and built themselves a campfire!

pirates were popular heroes, here with a feast

Year 1 sent themselves out into the wild and
built themselves (very small) shelters

young pirate and friend with treasure-sniffing dog 
pirate with fishing net by her shelter 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The last of a Lonely Beast?

The Lonely Beast came to Wycoller and saw
1 forest, swaying in the wind, and saw
2 ducks having a fight, and saw
3 trees standing beside the river, and found
4 big puddles to splash in, and heard
5 rocks splish, splash, sploshing in the river, and saw
6 windows with no-one in them, and found
7 doors open wide and ready for a visit, and smelled
8 chimneys smoking like volcanoes, and saw
9 last leaves swaying on a branch, and heard
10 leaves falling quietly to the ground

frightened faces peered at the Beast from windows

Whitefield Infant School, Nelson: our work on the wonderful Lonely Beast book by Chris Judge culminated in a series of story readings and shadow puppet plays where a hungry witch went looking for a beast to eat.....there is a song as well - that will have to follow!

over the Pack Horse Bridge

the Beast is saved by one of the big Wycoller dogs

 The Lonely Beast has gone home now but visitors can still search through the woods and streams and ruins of Wycoller. You never where the Wycoller beasts might be hiding!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Stories for a lonely Beast

Over the last 3 weeks, I've been working with children from Whitefield Infant School at Wycoller Country Park.

Each of three Year 2 classes has had a day at the Park working with musician Steve Brown and myself, using the wonderful Wycoller environment to inspire stories, poems songs and music about the Lonely Beast. In the book by Chris Judge, the Lonely Beast goes all over the world looking for other beasts to befriend...we picked up on his arrival in are a couple of the children's poems

Arriving at Wycoller
The Lonely Beast went to Wycoller and saw

1 ruin where there might be dangerous ghosts, and saw
2 dogs barking loudly behind the gates, and heard
3 birds singing in the trees, and saw
4 slippery, mossy rocks beside the river, and saw
5 parked cars with nobody in them, and saw
6 houses full of frightened people, and took
7 big steps to get up the steep hill, and heard
8 chattering children splashing through the river, and heard
9 quacking ducks racing across the pond and saw
10 leaves drifting beside the high trees

How to find a Wycoller beast

Look under the bridge over the fast, stony river
For trolls in the shadows and slime,
Creep beside the river, with the tall trees dropping leaves,
Run up the long stairs where the goblins hide,
Then back down the path, sliding in the mud,
By the pond where the ducks play
And in the ruins, inside the fireplace,
Maybe Beasts hide there

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A world gathering worth joining

It's a bit of an unwieldy title but WEEC2007 was one of the most exciting events I've been to in ages!

The 2007 WEEC was in Durban and I came away with new friends, new experiences and a bucket full of ideas to think about
things to see

2013 is a bit closer to Europe - Marrakesh in Morocco. We're right on the deadline for submissions and for early bird bookings but do take a look, have a think and maybe plunge in! (Images are from Durban)
time and places to stop and chat

Don't think too long, like jumping into the water, it's better just to leap!

Hope to see you there!

things to handle
And we visited an aquarium so, of course, I got very excited about the animals!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Opportunities for a bit of inspiration

Training has suffered a bit in our current distressed times so when there is a chance to do something exciting, we can only hope that people will take the opportunity to dive in.

Why not seize the moment and find new inspiration, activities to use and renewed delight in the work we share.

‘From Apathy to Empathy – Reconnecting People and Place’

featuring leading international and national experts in place-based education

 22nd-24th August 2012, The Burren, Ireland
This unique event will bring together leading local, national and international thinkers and practitioners who specialise in the theme of place-based learning (jncluding your very own Creeping Toad). Place-based learning encourages the use of the local environment as a learning resource. It immerses individuals in local heritage, culture and landscape, encouraging them to become more aware of and engaged with their place.

Go to the previous entry on this blog for more information 
improvising mantids

Monday 15th October 2012
Leaves, grass and plastic bottles: creative ways of using natural, found and recycled materials

 activities and inspiration using natural, found and recycled materials with groups to encourage a creative exploration of the world around us

Description: with resources that fit in a single bag, quick activities to use natural materials in sculpture, storymaking, puppetry and mess on a walk through the woods with a group. Later, we'll add more recycled materials and make masks, bigger puppets, illuminated sculptures, hanging mobiles, drifting ghosts. A chance to experiment, improvise and inspire yourself and your groups with the resources around us

Where: Bishops Wood Environment Centre, Worcestershire

Course cost:  £135.00 
For further details and information about this and other Bishops Wood courses,
please contact:
Bishops Wood Centre
Crossway Green, Stourport-on-Severn
DY13 9SE
Telephone: 01299 250513 Fax: 01299 250131
Visit the website at:

good training offers, ideas, activities and time to absorb them. We cannot guarantee sunshine, however. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Creeping Toad on tour, Highlands September 2012

What else could happen?
Creeping Toad on tour,
3 - 14th September 2012

what else could go wrong?
what other trick could we play?
what will happen next?

With stories to inspire, enchant and engage, workshops to captivate, books to make and new adventures to find, Creeping Toad stories involve participants in worlds of marvel and wonder and leave people full of words and images and ready for action

“like dogs who need toys to have fun and be happy, children need fun and to play to be happy. Then we learn well. With Gordon we play and have fun and learn at the same time”
Year 5 pupil, Runcorn, 2011

effective story ideas are absorbing
and invite concentration
Gordon MacLellan – Creeping Toad – is one of Britain’s foremost environmental art and education workers…and he tells stories too!

Between 3rd and 14th September, 2012  (and again in November), Gordon will be working in the Highland area (at least) and is available for a few bookings….

A day’s visit to your school ( or nature reserve or private group or college...I'm versatile!) might include

storybuilding using found objects and a few treasures
storytelling performances: lasting up to 60 minutes for up to 90 children at a time

stories outside! using the school ground, we’ll take storymaking out of the classroom and use the immediate environment, the day’s weather and whatever we can find to shape a set of stories never told before (allow 60 minutes for a class session)

story and book workshops: taking a bit longer (allow 90 minutes for a class) as well as discovering the stories that no-one has ever heard before, now we will build those into the books that no-one has ever read before and leave the classroom with a library no-one has ever visited before!

tales of old Scotland: a collection of stories of Highland folklore and Scottish histories, of heroes and sorrows, bravery and the magics of sea, mountain and moor

storymaking works across ages and continents
your own themes and ideas: or are you exploring a particular theme that you would like to involve some stories in? pirates….tropical islands….ancient cave people…..where in our school would bears live?…castle adventures,  have all featured in recent Creeping Toad projects

Charges: £250 a day: includes storyteller’s fee, travel and materials. Can be paid on the day or I can invoice you

For further information:
         visit the Creeping Toad website at
         or by telephone:
         landline: 01298 77964
         mobile: 07791 096857

storymaking invites you to pause and step out
of busyness and into a sense of the place

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Working with young people, and very young children in particular, teachers, group leaders and other artists often shout about the value of working on large things. While I don’t dispute the excitement of big things and the value of changing scale and perspective, I find that little things have their own special delight and fascination
pirates set sail: A Tiny Treasure Island workshop for Buxton Opera House

life on board ship is fraught with dangers.....

I think children (and adults, if I do a miniature books, tiny stories or very small treasures workshop) love the intimacy and secrecy of the small. Small activities can call just as much intensity and creativity as something huge and sprawling. It might be less cooperative and communal (but then there is still a sharing of ideas and helpful fingers to hold a fiddly box or fix the undergarments of an awkward pirate.....)
a pirate in her treasure box, with flags

pirates - about 12cm tall.....

And Tiny! activities can give you Tiny! celebrations - so this year the Stone and Water team are back in Buxton Festival Fringe doing some Tiny! workshops with very small faeries, goblins and trolls. After Tiny! PIrates (2011) and Tiny! Lanterns (2010), who knows what delights, or horrors, some Tiny! Faerie Tales might bring!
small stories - a watchful wolf

small stories - a boy with a cardboard shield and a wooden sword sets off to find a troll
Illustrations here are from workshops for Buxton Opera House's Easter programme and from story-making workshops with Reception classes at Milton Hall Primary School, Westcliffe-on-Sea